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Boys track and field team expects successful season

With 24 returning letterwinners and several other athletes being counted on to score points, head coach Andrew Lachowitzer is counting on a successful season from the Park Rapids boys track and field team.

Of that group, 15 competed at the Section 8A meet last spring as the Panthers tied for 10th place with 31 points while another nine helped Park Rapids compile 171 points to win the Subsection 8-29A title for the seventh time in the last eight years. The Panthers also placed sixth at the Section 8AA True Team meet and second at the Mid-State Conference meet.

Being counted on to produce points for the Panthers again this spring are the returning letterwinners: seniors Seth Breitweser, Chris Day, Jeremiah Engst, Spencer Fritze, Zach Fritze, Payton Hill, Thomas Melvin, Jake Reish, Preston Renneberg, Kian Scott and Jacob Stewart; juniors Eli Bessman, Hunter Brandt, Kolby Brandt, Max Crist, Keegan Moses and Avery Wolff; sophomore Lane Monaghan; and freshmen Darryl Etter, Tristan Hill, Josiah May, Sam Reish, Kaleb Stearns and Zach Van Batavia.

Placing as individuals at last year's section meet were Breitweser (third in the 800-meter run), Bessman (fifth in the 300 hurdles), Jake Reish (sixth in the high jump), Engst (seventh in the pole vault) and Day (eighth in the 400). Breitweser, Stearns and Kolby Brandt ran on the fourth-place 4 x 800 relay team. May, Day, Spencer Fritze and Zach Fritze ran on the fifth-place 4 x 100 relay unit. May, Zach Fritze, Spencer Fritze and Bessman ran on the sixth-place 4 x 200 relay team. Zach Fritze, Kolby Brandt and Day ran on the seventh-place 4 x 400 relay unit.

Also competing at the section meet were Jake Reish (ninth in the long jump and 15th in the triple jump), Monaghan (11th in the 1,600), Crist (13th in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Stewart (14th in the shot put), Bessman (15th in the 110 hurdles), Moses (16th in the 3,200), Wolff (no height in the high jump) and Spencer Fritze (no height in the pole vault).

That group led the Panthers to the team title at the subsection meet as the 4 x 800, 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays took first while the 4 x 100 relay joined Breitweser in the 800 and Spencer Fritze in the pole vault with runner-up finishes. Taking third were Bessman in both hurdles races, Day in the 400 and Jake Reish in the triple jump while Crist in both hurdles events, Monaghan in the 1,600, Moses in the 3,200, Engst in the pole vault, Stewart in the shot put and Jake Reish in the high jump placed fourth.

The other subsection competitors were Scott (fifth in the 400), Payton Hill (fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus), Wolff (fifth in the discus, sixth in the high jump and sixth in the triple jump), Etter (sixth in the 110 hurdles and ninth in the 300 hurdles), Jake Reish (sixth in the long jump), Stearns (seventh in the 400), Van Batavia (seventh in the 3,200), May (eighth in the 100), Engst (eighth in the triple jump and ninth in the 200), Renneberg (ninth in the high jump), Monaghan (10th in the 800), Melvin (11th in the 200), Sam Reish (12th in the long jump), Tristan Hill (12th in the discus), Spencer Fritze (13th in the 100), and Hunter Brandt (14th in the 200).

Earning all-conference honors with winning efforts were Breitweser in the 800 and Breitweser, Kolby Brandt and Stearns in the 4 x 800 relay. Claiming runner-up honors were Jake Reish in the high jump; Spencer Fritze, Zach Fritze and May in the 4 x 100 relay; Day, Spencer Fritze, Zach Fritze and May in the 4 x 200 relay; and Day, Zach Fritze and Kolby Brandt in the 4 x 400 relay.

Lachowitzer is also relying on senior Nathan David; juniors Marcus Benson, Jeff Haas, Brian Karkinen and Keeton Koskela; sophomores Skylar Hagen, Josiah Odor and Kyron Wohlenhaus; freshmen Parker Harmon and Sam Warne; and eighth graders Dawson Dahring and Lucas Kritzeck to contribute on the track and in the field this season. That group is being counted on to fill the spots vacated by the graduation of last year's senior crew of Matthew Benson (who rounded out the 4 x 800 and 4 x 400 relay teams), Bryce James (who placed eighth in the 3,200 at the section meet), Josh Baker, Bradley Graham and Damion Leon.

"I believe this is one of the strongest teams I've ever had. We return a lot of very good mid-distance to distance runners and should be strong form the 400 through the 3,200. Our relays should be very competitive from the 4 x 100 through the 4 x 800. We also should be strong in the field events as we are returning most of the same athletes from last season," said Lachowitzer, who will be assisted by Chad Harshman. "I believe we can compete in the section True Team and also believe we can bring multiple athletes to sections and to state. The boys are really working hard and want to do something special this season."

REMAINING SEASON SCHEDULE

April 12 - at Perham Invitational, 4 p.m. April 16 - Park Rapids Invitational, 4 p.m. April 23 - Park Rapids Invitational, 4 p.m. April 26 - at Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Invitational, 4 p.m.

May 2 - at Detroit Lakes Invitational, 3 p.m. May 7 - Section 8AA True Team meet at Detroit Lakes. May 14 - at Mid-State Conference meet at Detroit Lakes, 3:30 p.m. May 23 - Subsection 8-29A meet at Park Rapids.

June 1 - at Section 8A meet at East Grand Forks, 10:30 a.m.